Where will the Asian mobile innovation hub be?

Posted on August 25, 2012  /  0 Comments

The Economist carries a good piece on the innovation/entrepreneurial boom in Kenya centered around the mobile. There should be such a place in developing Asia. Where?

In 2002 Kenya’s exports of technology-related services were a piffling $16m. By 2010 that had exploded to $360m. To its boosters, Nairobi is “Silicon Savannah”.

However, it differs from its silicon sisters in one crucial regard. From the start, its tech firms have designed their products for mobile phones rather than computers. Kenya is still a poor country; few of its people own laptops. But there are 74 mobile phones for every 100 Kenyans, well above the African average of 65. And nearly 99% of internet subscriptions in Kenya are on mobile phones.

Investors are piling in. Nailab, a working space for technology professionals, opened on Nairobi’s Ngong Road in 2011. Down the street is 88mph, a seed fund and incubator that launched earlier this year. Innovation 4 Africa, a similar outfit, shares the space. Two others, Savannah Fund and GrowthHub, started operations in May. Kenya’s biggest bank, Equity Bank, wants a piece of the action. It will also open an “innovation centre” by the end of the year. Most of these funds focus on mobile technology.

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